<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sun, 30 Aug 2015 07:21:48 -0700 Sun, 30 Aug 2015 07:21:48 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[WATCH: Kayakers Capture Close Encounter With Hammerhead]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 21:03:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hammerhead-shark-la-jolla.gif

A group of kayakers captured their heart-pounding close encounter with a hammerhead shark off the San Diego coast Saturday — a sighting that prompted lifeguards to close down crowded beaches nearby.

Their incredible video shows the 8- to 10-foot shark circling and swimming under the watercraft off La Jolla Shores. Stalking the kayakers, the hammerhead followed them back to the beach as they paddled away, according to San Diego Lifeguards.

When officials saw the footage and noted the shark was exhibiting "aggressive behavior," they took immediate action.

They decided to clear the waters between La Jolla Cove and Scripps Pier, announcing the closure over loud speakers to thousands packed onto the sand. The beach will be closed for the rest of the day, according to Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum.

"What we're going to do is evaluate tomorrow morning," he said at a news briefing Saturday afternoon. "If there's no other shark sighting by then, we'll probably lift the closure and open it as an advisory for the full 24-hour period."

People swimming near the shark were able to climb onto other kayaks and get safely to shore.

The animal was last seen just outside the surf line at the foot of Avenida De La Playa, at the south part of La Jolla Shores.

Lifeguard crews in boats and a helicopter soon began searching the waters for shark, but no more sightings have been reported. Officials say if they find it, they will track it and make sure it leaves the area before the waters are reopened.

The closure was a disappointment to many beachgoers, who sought the cool water on the unusually hot Saturday.

"They were just going to shut it down temporarily, but then they decided to shut it down for the entire day," said Gil Durazo, at La Jolla with his two sons. "So we kind of stuck it out for a little while but then decided, you know, we've been here long enough, we're just going to head home and jump in the pool for a little while."

Lifeguards say they brought the kayakers' footage to Dr. Andy Nosal, a marine biologist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. He said based on the size, species and behavior of the shark, lifeguards were right to close the beach.

"It's not uncommon for these types of sharks to be seen far off shore, but it's uncommon to see it so close to a popular beach like La Jolla Shores," said Lerum.

According to the lieutenant, a similar closure happened in La Jolla a couple years ago when a great white shark came concerningly close to the shore.

As for why the hammerhead was acting aggressively toward the kayakers, Lerum's best guess is food.

"Well sharks are very instinctive," he said. "Usually what causes them to act aggressively is their desire to eat, and so there may have been food in the area that we don't know of." He was not sure if the kayakers had fish on board.

Hammerheads rarely present a threat to humans, experts say. In fact, since scientists began keeping records in the 1950s, there have been just 32 documented hammerhead shark attacks, according to Mike Price, an assistant curator of fishes at SeaWorld.

However, a hammerhead bit into a local diver's hand earlier this month about 100 miles off San Diego's coast.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Rat Droppings, Urine Found at Chuck E. Cheese's]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 19:08:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chuck-E-Cheese-Droppings.jpg

San Diego County health officials say they will conduct a follow-up inspection of the Chuck E. Cheese’s Grossmont Center location after “fresh and old droppings” from rats were found under storage racks and the children’s play structure area.

“The kids are crawling through there on their hands and knees and then after that going down to eat their pizza. So, they’re using their rat feces-covered hands to eat Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza,” concerned mother Colleen Adams told NBC 7 Friday.

She and friends went to the location in La Mesa on Aug. 21 with their children.

Adams agreed to help her friend’s 18-month-old son through the play area when she smelled urine and saw the rat feces. She took numerous pictures and reported the incident to the business’ manager.

Alexis Linn is with the public relations department for Chuck E. Cheese’s. She confirms rat droppings were found in the play area and says employees cleaned the mess right away.

“We sealed up a couple places near our pipes and since then we have had no issue with rats or droppings anywhere,” she explained.

Linn says there’s a larger rat problem with the shopping complex as a whole.

“[Grossmont Center] is an older shopping center. Multiple businesses have experienced rat problems,” she said.

NBC 7 spoke to a manager with the shopping center Friday, and he said the center had no comment.

Linn says the Aug. 21 incident was the first time something of this nature occurred at this location.

NBC 7 learned the Chuck E. Cheese’s location at Grossmont Center maintains an A rating with the county’s food inspection department. It has no major violations, but does have numerous minor violations dating back to March that involve vermin and maintaining facilities.

“We do mandate daily cleanings at our stores and I will tell you, you’d be shocked at the amount of stuff that can be accrued at a Chuck E. Cheese’s,” said Linn.

Adams says she is appalled by her experience.

She posted about it on an East County alert Facebook page and it’s been shared nearly 1.200 times as of Friday evening.

Health inspectors plan to visit the Chuck E. Cheese’s La Mesa location again next week.

Photo Credit: Colleen Adams]]>
<![CDATA[Pedestrian Hit, Badly Injured by Car]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:42:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ped-Ax-El-Cajonblvd-0829.jpg

A 59-year-old man walking near City Heights Saturday was seriously injured when a car accidentally hit him, sending him flying into the air, according to one witness.

The crash happened just before 10 a.m. on Altadena Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard.

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said a 27-year-old man was driving his 2012 Toyota Rav southbound on Altadena Avenue and made a left turn onto El Cajon Boulevard. As he drove eastbound, a pedestrian crossed El Cajon Boulevard and the driver struck him.

Witness Patrick Jones had just left a nearby Auto-Zone store and was driving home when he witnessed the crash. The Toyota Rav was right in front of him.

Jones told NBC 7 the impact threw the pedestrian into the air.

“He went up and he came down. That was it,” he explained.

Jones said he pulled over and ran to the victim, checking to see if he was still breathing.

“He was bleeding real badly from the ears and from the nose,” Jones recalled. “He lost a lot of blood. I hope he’s okay.”

Jones said he stayed with the pedestrian and tried to talk with him to get him to respond to his voice. However, the man remained quiet.

“He wasn’t saying anything. He was shaking a little bit,” he added.

Soon, police and paramedics arrived.

SDPD Sgt. Chris Velovich said the victim was unconscious and suffered a life-threatening head injury in the collision. He was rushed to a local hospital, but his condition is unknown.

Sgt. Velovich said the driver immediately stopped to help the victim after the crash, rendering aid as he called 911.

The accident is under investigation, but the sergeant said alcohol or drugs did not play a factor.

Sgt. Velovich said investigators are still trying to determine who was at-fault. He said it appears the pedestrian was crossing the street outside the designated crosswalk.

The driver was not hurt. The streets were blocked off to traffic for just over an hour following the crash.

Photo Credit: Erica Simpson]]>
<![CDATA[3 Firefighters Injured Fighting I-8 Blaze]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 18:32:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Alpine-Drop-Heidi-Hopp.jpg

A brush fire sparked in Alpine Saturday morning near the Viejas Casino & Resort, leaving three firefighters with heat-related injuries, officials confirmed.

The blaze was first reported around 9:50 a.m. off westbound Interstate 8 at East Willows Road, and one structure was threatened by the flames, according to Jason Kraling, a battalion chief with Cleveland National Forest.

No mandatory evacuations were put into place, but the fire crept within 50 feet of buildings nearby.

Three firefighters were taken from the scene with minor, heat-related illness. They have since been treated and are doing fine, according to Kraling.

"It's hot, it's dry, it's humid and it's just fatigue and heat-related," said the battalion chief.

By 4:30 p.m., the fire was about 50 percent contained.
California Highway Patrol officials said a passerby reported seeing sparks flying from a pickup truck that may have then ignited some nearby vegetation.

Fire crews began tackling the blaze, which officials said was spreading quickly as of 10:10 a.m. Officials shut down parts of westbound I-8 near the fire just before 10:30 a.m. so crews could begin making airdrops over the flames.

"We were able to utilize the SDG&E heavy heli-tanker, as well as the fixed wing aircraft out of Ramona, and then two sheriff's helicopters out of Gillespie," said Kraling.

At 10:30 a.m., CHP officials said a crash involving several vehicles happened near the scene of the brush fire. The injuries and severity of the crash was unknown.

Around 10:45 a.m., Cal Fire officials said crews were helping Cleveland National Forest firefighters with the wildfire. By 10:55 a.m., officials had issued a SigAlert in the area and the roads were blocked off to traffic for several hours.

Kraling said the freeway presented them with one of the biggest obstacles.

"We're right off the freeway, so we've had to close one lane of Interstate 8 going westbound, and on a Saturday, that causes some congestion and fast cars on the highway create some issues for safety," Kraling said.

Westbound lanes were being diverted to West Willows Road, while eastbound lanes remained open.

By 12:35 p.m., officials said the fire had been fully contained. Crews remained on scene mopping up hot spots.

Amid a late-August heat wave in San Diego, the temperature in Alpine was approximately 95-degrees when the fire sparked.

NBC 7 meteorologist Greg Bledsoe said hot temperatures were expected to drop off about five degrees at most Saturday, but temperatures would still remain well above normal, especially inland and in local deserts.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Heidi Hopp
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Attend Vigil for Slain Texas Deputy ]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:33:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/policia-asesinado-texas.jpg

Hundreds gathered at a vigil Saturday to mourn the loss of the sheriff’s deputy ambushed at a Texas gas station while filling up his patrol car the previous evening, NBC News reported. 
The crowd, gathered at the Houston Chevron station where Darren H. Goforth was gunned down, were led in prayer and observed a moment of silence for Goforth and the sheriff’s department. 
Many said that they were there to support police. Some said that they were frustrated with what they said was an increased hostility against all police. 
His wife, meanwhile, released a statement Saturday calling her husband her best friend. "There are no words for this," she said.
Saturday, Shannon Miles, 30, was arrested and charged with capital murder in the shooting of Goforth, a 10-year veteran on the force. 

Photo Credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Little Local Gives Tips to Beat the Heat]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 14:51:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Little-Weather-Expert-KNSD.jpg NBC 7's Omari Fleming, reporting from Santee Lakes, speaks to a little local who knows a thing or two about how to beat the heat amid San Diego's very hot late-August weather. Tip: "Be Cool. Be Sweet. Be Smart."

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[SDPD Helicopter Pilots Earn Award for Use of Cameras]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 17:00:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ABLE-Generic.jpg

The San Diego Police Department's Airborne Law Enforcement Unit (ABLE) is being nationally recognized by FLIR, the company that makes the 380 HD cameras mounted on SDPD helicopters.

The police helicopter unit, better known as ABLE, won third place in FLIR's 2015 Vision Award for most effective use of its cameras – specifically for the way ABLE used the technology to help capture two burglary suspects in Southeast San Diego.

It was about midnight on a night in February 2015 when a homeowner called 911 because he heard someone downstairs trying to break into his house.

ABLE pilots Blair Stephens and Matthew Zdunich were few miles out, and even at that distance were able to identify the house on their FLIR 380 HD camera.

"As we arrived at the house, it's important for us to know what the person calling the police has to say, so that's being given to us over the radio," says SDPD Officer Stephens, a 15-year veteran of the ABLE unit. “Matt is looking at the house with the camera. And as the pilot, it's my job to position the helicopter so he can see whatever he needs to see the entire time."

The FLIR cameras work with a GPS moving map system and display very sharp infrared images on the monitors inside ABLE's Airbus A-Star helicopters.

The map also displays the actual plot of the property.

"If the camera is looking at a particular address, on the moving map, you see what that address is. So if somebody is jumping fences from one yard into the next, wherever the x is on the screen, I can look on the map, and it will tell me where the address is," says SDPD Officer Zdunich, who joined the unit nearly four years ago.

That night in February 2015, SDPD Officers Stephens and Zdunich were over the house on Black Oak Road in about a minute.

They immediately saw two burglars in the backyard, before they were able to break in to a home.

The pilots tracked the burglars as they jumped fences and tried to escape the scrutiny of the pilots, who are all tactical flight officers, on board the SDPD helicopter.

"With the handheld controller in the cockpit, I can move the camera around and follow his actions," says Officer Zdunich.

One of the suspects tried to hide in the bushes, apparently thinking he couldn't be seen.
"People that are in a dark place that's not well lit, think that they're hidden," says Zdunich. "And they are, from people on the ground who can't see that. But this camera is helping us to see that."

"He stayed put there, until he was eventually arrested," says Zdunich.

The second suspect kept running through neighboring yards, changing directions when he came across an approaching officer or neighborhood dogs.

"The other one continued on the move until eventually we had coordinated a tight enough perimeter where he could be contacted by a patrol officer and a K-9 officer," says Officer Zdunich.

One of ABLE's main objectives is officer safety.

"One of the suspects was trying to come out of the side yard onto the street and there was an officer heading in the same direction. They were about to meet at the fence line," says Officer Zdunich. "So I was able to give that information to the officer so he wasn't surprised if the suspect, in fact, jumped over the fence."

The new HD camera also has a longer lens, improved stabilization and increased zoom capacity.

The images on the older cameras weren't nearly as clear, so pilots had to fly lower, usually about 800 feet, to see the images on their monitors.

"That disturbs the residents. And as the officers are trying to do their job, the helicopter noise hampers their ability not only to communicate on the radio, but also to communicate with each other," said Officer Stephens.

ABLE pilots can now fly anywhere from about 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet in the air. The FLIR cameras ABLE uses are compact versions of the ones the military uses on its aircraft.

The pilots give a lot of credit to the patrol officers on the ground, who must be able to react quickly.

"It does take an entire team of air support unit, ground officers that work with the information we give them. We're a resource to them," says Officer Stephens, and notes, dispatchers are also crucial to the team.

ABLE pilots say the cameras help to clear a lot of cases.

The two burglary suspects seen in the February 2015 ABLE video settled their case out of court.

"It was an excellent show of police work," says Officer Zdunich.

The unit has been recording all of its incidents, since the late 1980's.

"It works in the same aspect a body camera would. It records everything, both for evidence and to prove or disprove something that someone says may or may not have happened," says ABLE Sergeant Craig Evans.

ABLE’s four helicopters are now equipped with two FLIR 380 HD. A third camera will arrive in early 2016. All three were paid for with federal and state grants.

<![CDATA[Calif. Hiker Found Alive After Missing for More Than a Week]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:26:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Missing_Hiker.jpg

A 62-year-old woman who vanished while hiking in California was found alive Saturday — more than a week after she was separated from the group she was traveling with, police said, NBC News reported. 

Miyuki Harwood was spotted by members of a search and rescue team not far from where she went missing near the Courtright Reservoir, about 100 miles east of Fresno, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Police said Harwood was hurt, but they do not yet know the extent of her injuries. She was brought by helicopter to a nearby hospital, police said.

Harwood was last seen on Aug. 20 with a hiking group from the Sierra Club, based near Sacramento

Photo Credit: Fresno County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Scholarships Memorialize Reporter Slain in Virginia]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 04:42:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/matan-reporteros_3.jpg

The family of Alison Parker, the TV reporter shot to death during a live report Wednesday morning in Virginia, is asking that people donate to memorial scholarship funds and charities in her name to honor the young journalist.

Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, both journalists at WDBJ7 in Roanoke, both died when police say a disgruntled former employee shot them during a live report about tourism. A third person, a woman Parker was interviewing, was injured in the shooting but survived. The suspected gunman later fatally shot himself as police closed in on him.

Parker's family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following scholarship funds or organizations:

Alison B. Parker Memorial Fund at James Madison University
James Madison University, 220 University Blvd., Office of Annual Giving MSC 3603, Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Alison Bailey Parker Memorial Scholarship
Patrick Henry Community College Foundation, 645 Patriot Ave., Martinsvile, VA 24112

Valley Stars and Salvation Army of Roanoke

A public celebration of Parker's life is expected to be held at a later date after a private memorial service. A viewing for Ward is set for tomorrow, and a service for him will be held Tuesday morning in Roanoke.

Photo Credit: NBC NEWS
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Huge Fire at Saudi Oil Workers' Compound Kills 7]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 05:05:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/AP859656548979.jpg

Seven people were killed and more than 200 injured in a giant fire that tore through an oil workers' residential compound in Saudi Arabia Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Officials said that residents of "various nationalities" were affected by the early morning blaze, which broke out in the basement of the Radium compound in the eastern city of Khobar.

The compound is used by the state oil giant Saudi Aramco, which oversees petroleum production in the country, and was the site of a 1996 truck bombing at a dormitory for U.S. Air Force personnel that killed 19 Americans and wounded 372.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Heads to Alaska for Historic Climate Change Tour]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 02:38:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_586127782641.jpg

President Barack Obama heads to Alaska Monday for a historic Arctic tour aimed at drawing attention to climate change, NBC News reported.

The three-day tour will include trips to a receding glacier and to coastal communities where he will talk to villagers about erosion threatening their shoreline and livelihood. 

The Arctic trip — the first ever by a sitting U.S. president — comes ahead of a major international summit in Paris at the end of the year, where he will push for a global deal to flight climate change.

Such an agreement, environmental policy experts say, could help secure his legacy as the first U.S. president to address global climate change in a substantive way.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[3 Adults Killed, Child Wounded in Tennessee Home Shooting]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 02:07:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/187062332.jpg

Two men and a woman were found shot to death inside a home in eastern Tennessee Saturday night, according to the local sheriff's office, NBC News reported. A child was also found inside the home with gunshot wounds and transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.

The alleged gunman was found "a short time" after authorities responded to the scene and he was taken into custody, according to a statement from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. The suspect had also been shot, but his wounds were not life threatening, the statement added.

Sheriff Wayne Anderson told local TV station WCYB that it appeared the suspect, who was not identified, was related to those living inside the home. 

"He made it up here where they live...and he just started shooting everybody," Anderson said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Gordon’s Outing Lacks Signature Play vs Seahawks]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:33:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Melvin+Gordon+Chargers+Preseason.jpg

NFL preseason games are like appetizers before the main course that is the regular season.

After the Chargers fell 16-15 to the Seattle Seahawks in their 3rd exhibition contest, you’re probably still hungry to see more of one new player in particular.

The Chargers gave rookie running back Melvin Gordon ample opportunities to showcase his skills against the team that was one play away from winning back-to-back Super Bowls.  The former Wisconsin Badger emerged from the game without any disclosed injuries, but also without a signature play during his latest dress rehearsal.

If you look solely at the box score and see Gordon ran for 34 yards on 14 carries, you probably aren’t enthused about the new kid on the block averaging a paltry 2.4 yards per carry.

Gordon carried the rock 6 times for just 11 yards in his first NFL action against the Cowboys and sat out as a precaution when the team traveled to Arizona.  As NBC7’s Derek Togerson pointed out in his game recap, the Chargers rookie did not appear to be slowed down by the ankle injury he was nursing over the past few weeks.

His longest rush of the day was an 8 yard burst up the middle.  Gordon also picked up back-to-back 5-yard gains on one drive which included a 3rd-and-1 conversion for a first down.  But for the most part he struggled to get going when running behind center and towards the right side of the offensive line.

The rookie admitted afterwards that he feels like he knows what he’s doing and is trying to just “calm himself down,” as he settles in and adapts to the speed of the game.

"I'm definitely getting more comfortable,” said Gordon. “It takes reps."

While Gordon struggled, Branden Oliver did twist his way into the end-zone for the 3rd straight exhibition game.

The 3rd year pro out of Buffalo dazzled his way past the Seahawks backups after catching a short pass from Kellen Clemens and heading up field for an electric 70 yard scoring play down the sideline.

Oliver also scored on a nifty 10-yard run in the preseason opener against the Cowboys, and tallied six points against Arizona on a 3 yard plunge.

Oliver has now scored a touchdown in 3 different ways against 3 different teams: as a goal-line back, a playmaking rusher, and a pass catcher that runs for tons of yards after the catch.

The kneejerk reaction may be to call for Brandon Oliver to start the season opener against Detroit, but if you feel that way we need to take a timeout.  There are many factors to consider as to why Gordon has not shown big flashes so far in August.

First of all, Seattle has developed a reputation of being one of the best defenses in the league – and one of the deepest – over the past few years. The Chargers are also trying to figure out how to get their new toy in space.

Teams also are trying to walk the tightrope of getting regulars game-action while limiting the amount of time they could suffer injuries out on the field.  Look no further than the Green Bay Packers who saw starting wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb suffer injuries within 6 days in preseason games that don’t count in the standings.

Danny Woodhead also spelled Gordon during the first half.  It’s important to remember that all three running backs provide the Chargers with options.

There's a good chance Gordon won’t be a workhorse back because Woodhead and Oliver have proven in past regular season games that they can contribute as well.

The San Diego offensive line is still a work in progress, although the passing product is ahead of the rushing attack.  Philip Rivers looked sharp against Seattle, completing 13-of-19 passes for 140 yards.  As long as the O-Line can keep their signal-caller upright, there should be no concern about the passing game.

As for the ground game, take a step back and remember that Gordon has officially rushed for 0 yards on 0 carries and hauled in 0 receptions so far in his actual NFL career.

You can still draft him in your fantasy football league, too.

Let’s see how the first round pick performs when the games actually count before we rush to any assumptions. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same goes for Pro Bowl careers.

Sometimes when you go to a restaurant, the appetizers aren’t amazing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the main entrée or the desserts are going to be subpar.

<![CDATA[Mortgage Investor Sentenced to 18 months in Prison]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 22:53:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/l_foreclosures-record.jpg

A US District judge sentenced a San Diego mortgage investor to 18 months in prison Friday.

Israel Hechter, owner of Ocean 18 LLC and Note Tracker Corporation, paid nearly $1 million in bribes to bank insiders at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, GMAC Mortgage and National City Bank.

The bankers then arranged for Hechter to win bids to buy mortgage loans on the secondary market by manipulating and even erasing bids from qualified competitors. They also gave him confidential information.

Hechter gave GMAC Bank $330,000 in cash to hide the bribe from the IRS. He paid another $336,000 to GMAC for bribes disguised as legitimate fees paid for services.

GMAC banker Robert Moreno also pled guilty for taking more than $1 million in bribes from Hechter and another customer.

Lynda Sanabria, a J.P. Morgan Chase banker who sold mortgages on the secondary market, pled guilty as well for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. In return she gave Hechter influence over Chase’s mortgage sales.

Hechter’s Brother and business partner Amir Hechter and his employee Jack Prober pled guilty to writing illegal checks to bankers in order to evade the IRS.

After purchasing the mortgages Hechter pooled the loans and sold the shares to investors, usually friends or family.

Ocean 18 LLC would collect monthly payments from loans or from initiating foreclosure proceedings from borrowers who defrauded.

His investors made money when borrowers made payments, sold properties or after foreclosure. The mortgages were purchased on the secondary market after banks gave funds to borrowers.

Secondary purchasers provide primary lenders with additional capital and reduced credit risk and give borrowers greater access to loans.

The secondary mortgage market is more than $10 trillion and is essential to the economy.

Zeev Hechter, Hechter’s father who hand delivered cash to Robert Moreno, was sentenced to 6 months in custody and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and restitution of $165,000.

Hechtor’s brother was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a $25,000 fine and restitution of $63,474.

Lynda Sanabria got 6 months in custody, followed by 6 months home confinement and must pay $40,420 in restitution.

Robert Moreno and Jack Prober are both scheduled to be sentenced in September and October.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Charged in Killing of Texas Sheriff's Deputy]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:34:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/goforth-harriscounty.jpg

A 30-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the "execution-style" shooting of a deputy at a suburban Houston gas station, authorities announced Saturday afternoon, NBC News reported.

Shannon J. Miles, 30, was arrested for the murder of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren H. Goforth, 47, who was pumping gas about 8:30 p.m. Friday when he was shot from behind. 

"We haven't been able to exact any details regarding a motive," Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman told reporters, calling Goforth's death a "senseless and cowardly act."

In an emotional news conference hours before Miles' arrest was announced, a visibly angry Hickman told reporters that "dangerous rhetoric" against law enforcement had "gotten out of control."

"We've heard black lives matter — all lives matter," he said. "Well, cops' lives matter, too."

Photo Credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office/NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Air Force Contractor Pays $945,000 in Back Wages ]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 22:29:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/paycheck1200.jpg

Investigators from the Department of Labor ordered a San Diego air force contractor to pay $945,000 in back wages to 901 employees across the country.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, an unmanned aircraft and surveillance system manufacturer based in San Diego, violated federal wage requirements that government contractors must pay their workers the prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits in the geographic location they work according to the Dept. of Labor.

“Failing to pay the correct prevailing wages hurts workers, and it also negatively affects other contractors who pay proper wages,” said David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in a statement. “We appreciate that General Atomics was cooperative throughout the investigation and immediately came into compliance. They also ensured that all employees working on their contracts were paid back wages once the issues were brought to their attention.”

According to the investigation, General Atomics paid employees who were required to work outside their home area wages for where they lived not where they were assigned to work as required by law. This often resulted in less pay.

General Atomics time clock system did not account for the location workers were assigned to work. They have since agreed to pay their workers the highest prevailing wage of all their job sites going back six years, and have updated their time clock to account for work location.

<![CDATA[El Cajon Tax Preparer Arrested for Fake Tax Returns ]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 21:44:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IRS+tax+returns+getty.jpg

A tax return preparer in El Cajon was arrested Thursday for making false tax returns.

Marla Lynn Cunningham, who owned and operated Cunningham's Tax Service, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 36 counts. 

The indictment alleges between 2010 and 2012 Cunningham prepared false Schedules C that reported fictitious business losses and Schedules A that reported fake itemized deductions such as charitable donations on clients' returns.

She also attached forms claiming education credits her clients were not entitled to.

She could face three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count if convicted.

<![CDATA[Chargers Fall to Seahawks after Rivers Scare]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 21:57:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-485769940.jpg

At the end of the second quarter of the Chargers vs. Seahawks game at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday night, the entirety of the Bolts fan base collectively gasped in horror.

Quarterback Philip Rivers hit his hand on a Seattle defender and winced in pain. He tried throwing one more pass, missing Keenan Allen in the end zone, before running to the locker room in obvious discomfort. In an NFL preseason that has seen the Packers lose Jordy Nelson, the Steelers lose Maurkice Pouncey and the Redskins lose Robert Griffin III, the obvious fear of the most important player on the roster is very real.

But Rivers, who was 13-19 for 140 yards in the first half, walked the second-half sideline with his ball cap on and not even a Band-Aid on his throwing hand. He's going to be just fine. Rivers had a good view of what turned out to be an exciting game.

The Seahawks won 16-15 thanks to a 60-yard field goal by Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka with 16 seconds left in the game. San Diego falls to 2-1 on the exhibition season.

Despite the end result there is reason to be excited. The Chargers defense played extremely well against the two-time defending NFC champions.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll let his starters play deep in to the third quarter. Quarterback Russell Wilson was not terribly effective, completing just seven of 15 passes for 56 yards.

San Diego safety Jahleel Addae made a tremendous play in the first quarter on a blitz to force Wilson into a intentional grounding penalty. Fellow safety (and Pt. Loma High alum) Jimmy Wilson sacked Wilson on another blitz.

Linebacker Melvin Ingram also spent a lot of his night in the Seattle backfield pressuring Wilson, who scrambled four times for 23 yards. Ingram has had the best preseason of his professional career after dropping 20 pounds in the off-season.

As expected rookie running back Melvin Gordon got a lot of work in what should be his last preseason game of 2015. Gordon is still looking for his first breakout run but did carry 14 times for 34 yards. He also caught two passes for seven yards and did not seem to be slowed down by the ankle ailment that caused him to miss last week's game in Arizona.

The Chargers' only touchdown came on a 70-yard pass play to another running back. In the third quarter, Branden Oliver took a short pass from Kellen Clemens and had a lot of open field in front of him. Oliver made one defender miss on his way to the longest TD of his professional career.

Seattle's only touchdown came on a 67-yard punt return by rookie Tyler Lockett.

The Chargers have to cut their roster down to 75 by Tuesday and then play their last preseason game on Thursday at Levi's Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers. The final 53-man roster will be decided on Saturday, September 5.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[400 Military Children Given Free School Supplies]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 19:59:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Military_kids_schools_supplies_1200x675_515762243843.jpg

For children from military families, going back to school can be a tough time.

They may constantly be switching schools, constantly making new friends, constantly playing catch-up in class.

So the San Diego Armed Services YMCA, with the help of Wells Fargo, tried to take one stressful task off their list, offering about 400 children free school supplies on Saturday.

"School supplies are so expensive, and I know being a military family, we don't always have enough money to go and buy all the school supplies so this is a huge, huge help," said Lydia Daniels, whose two children stocked up on pencils, folders, lunchboxes and all the essentials.

Her 6-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, told NBC 7, “I like the paint and the puppies,” referring to her notebook covered with adorable dog faces.

For many, the free supplies means more money for groceries, school lunches and more.

"Some of us have to be on a one income because our children have special needs or it's just the way the military life is,” said one woman whose husband has been in the Navy for 13 years. “We're constantly moving so we're not able to have our own careers as well.”

At the event, guests were also treated to breakfast, entertainment and children’s activities.

Wells Fargo volunteers also packed 1,000 care packages that will be sent overseas to deployed service members. Brian Lee, an area president for the bank, said they hope to

"Military is such an important part of San Diego, and they do such great work that, as I tell them, it's because of what they do each and every day that allows us to do what we do each and every day."

<![CDATA[P.F. Chang's Worker Fatally Stabbed]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 04:33:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PF+Chang+Best+082915.JPG

One P.F. Chang's kitchen worker was stabbed to death Saturday, allegedly by another, at the restaurant in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said 23-year-old Jaquan Huston used a knife to stab his coworker at the restaurant, located at the Northshore Mall.

Police responded just after 5:30 p.m. The victim, identified as 38-year-old Elivelton Dias of Salem, was rushed to Salem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, Blodgett said.

Huston was arrested at his home in Salem. He is scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges in Peabody District Court Monday.

"This was an isolated incident," said Blodgett. "It's a very difficult, sad situation."

Other staff members and witnesses are being interviewed as the investigation continues.

P.F. Chang's later released a statement on the incident:

"Tonight we lost an employee in a tragic incident at our Peabody restaurant. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our colleague. We will be mobilizing support to provide care to our colleague's family, as well as our fellow employees, during this difficult time. We are also cooperating with local law enforcement as they conduct their investigation."

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[2.5-Magnitude Quake Shakes East of Temecula]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 19:26:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/earthquake+map+0829.JPG

A 2.5-magnitude earthquake shook up a remote area east of Temecula Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The temblor started at about 7 p.m.

The epicenter is about 12 miles northeast of Warner Springs, 26 miles south of Palm Springs.

No damage has been reported.

Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA[Authorities Confiscate Illegal Moonshine Still]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 20:41:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/still21.JPG

San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies and agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) confiscated an illegal still Friday morning in Ramona.

A still is a system used to distill liquid into alcohol, and if operated illegally, suspects can be charged with a felony in California. 

After obtaining a warrant, agents searched the premises on Davis Cup Road in San Diego Country Estates and found an illicit operation, officials say.

The ABC began investigating the property after a complaint said people were distilling without a license.

Illegal stills could potentially explode, and since they are not regulated, they also may not be safe to drink, according to the ABC.

Agents seized evidence of distilling, equipment and moonshine at the property. Officers also arrested a man at the scene. They say he is cooperating with authorities.

The man told NBC7 he is just a home distiller, and he has never sold any moonshine to anyone.

Photo Credit: Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control ]]>
<![CDATA[Local Coast Guardsmen Remember Katrina 10 Years Later]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:50:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/katrina-coast-guard-rescuers-remember.jpg

As the whole country reflects on the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina a decade later, two Coast Guard rescue swimmers described seeing a submerged New Orleans and thousands in need of help.

Lt. Benjamin Berman and Aviation Survival Technician 1st Class Robert Williams, who are now stationed at the San Diego Coast Guard sector, said Friday that the images of destruction are still fresh in their minds.

"It was 10 years ago but there are constant reminders of it. Even just flying in the helicopter sometimes I'll just have memories while we are flying around," Williams said.

He was stationed at Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2005 and had only been a rescue swimmer for two years when he got the call for help.

Williams and his crew were on a helicopter bound for New Orleans an hour later. They arrived at night, and all he could see were flashlights dotting the ground. Before long, he realized those lights were held by people who needed rescue.

"It looked like a third-world country with people on rooftops and rivers flowing down places where cars should be driving, dogs swimming in the streets, people on top of cars floating down the streets, gas pipes that were broken and on fire," Williams said.

Berman lived in Mobile, Alabama, at the time. He flew in the first night Coast Guard crews came to the rescue, joining the branch's effort to save more than 33,500 people -- one of the largest rescue operations in Coast Guard history.

One disturbing sight that stuck with him, he said, was seeing a couple who died off Interstate 10, where he and his crew were trying to help survivors.

"That kind of affected me because they died together on the side of the freeway," he said. "It was kind of devastating. There was devastation everywhere of course, but walking up to that kind of devastation was pretty impactful."

Berman said he never forgets the anniversary of the day he was sent to New Orleans because he had to leave his 2-week old son. He now calls his boy his "Katrina baby."

Both Williams and Berman told NBC 7 in San Diego that they hope their efforts made an impact on survivors and that the people of New Orleans have come out stronger.

"It's sad though that a lot of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast has not recovered from Katrina, but I stand by them and hopefully they will come back around," Berman said.

Berman has returned every year since Hurricane Katrina, but Williams has not been back since the storm. He told NBC 7 he hopes to return soon.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Remarkable Park Opens in East Village]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:10:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fault+line+park.JPG

Folks who live in downtown's East Village finally have a public park to call their own – and not an ordinary park.

It’s an artistic and architectural marvel — a small but creative greenbelt in the midst of a booming residential neighborhood shedding its past as a grimy industrial stretch.

Fault Line Park is named for the Rose Canyon seismic fault that runs miles underground, its north-to-south path traced by a concrete walkway on the 14th Avenue site between Island and J streets.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Councilman Todd Gloria presided over a Friday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted top civic leaders and scores of upscale East Village residents.

The 1.3-acre park cost $3 million to build — but nobody's blinking.

After all, it's a price-appropriate centerpiece for a neighborhood populated by $150 million residential towers whose penthouse apartments lease for $10,000 a month.

East Village now encompasses several major excavation sites that’ll give way to more skyscrapers, eventually rising where warehouses once stood — until local speculators began redeveloping in the early 1970s.

"And then the national guys came in,” says David Hazan, president of the East Village Association. “They got wind of it, and then all of a sudden the landscape changed,”

Hazan, who’s done business in East Village since 1974, said the newer investors have the kind of money and vision to bring about wholesale change.

“And now you see the result,” Hazan enthused, spreading his arms wide. “Cranes in the air, new buildings, parks. So it's an exciting time down here. Very exciting."

But curbing some enthusiasm for potential homebuyers accustomed to suburban comfort zones might be the proximity of folks kindly referred to these days as "unhoused" and "displaced."

They’re a vestige of the neighborhood’s down-at-the-heels early days where warehouse delivery truck drivers routinely dodged derelicts too wasted to know they were in harm’s way.

With this in mind, the city found it necessary to declare the park a 24-hour alcohol-free zone, with a 9 p.m. to dawn curfew.

But East Village residential pioneers such as Bob Link, who bought into East Village with his wife 11 years ago, said not to worry — there's now so much to this community to embrace and celebrate.

"I've never felt unsafe walking the streets,” Link told NBC 7. “We have walked our dog on the streets. We've stopped and talked with people that are unfortunate, finding themselves without a place to live right now.

“I've had an opportunity to work and try to find solutions, and I think a lot of people in East Village are solution-oriented," he added.

<![CDATA[Mourners Hold Vigil for Teen Found Dead on Roadside]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 11:19:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/anthony+hofer+vigil.JPG

Family and friends sent up a prayer Friday night for the teenager whose body was discovered by a Chula Vista road.

Emotions overflowed at the vigil for Anthony Hofer, 17, an Olympian High School student. Mourners in black gathered where Hofer died, released black balloons in his honor and circulated the hashtag #blackforTony on social media.

“I love him and will miss him a lot and I’m always going to be thinking about him,” said Alex Contreras. “He’ll always be my best friend.”

A jogger discovered the teen’s body on the side of Heritage Road near Sleep Train Amphitheater Thursday – a path Hofer walked often, his friends say. It was just five minutes from his home.

Chula Vista Police said the cause of Hofer’s death was not apparent, so they are waiting for the results of an autopsy for answers. Investigators did say he had trauma on his face and parts of his body, and he had no shoes or socks on when he was found.

“They have taken one of my borrowed babies,” said family friend Kim Gonzales. “They’re a coward for leaving. Not only was it my borrowed baby, he was everyone’s borrowed baby.

At this time, police are calling this a death investigation and are hoping witnesses come forward with any information.

<![CDATA[Closer Look: Deadly DUIs in San Diego]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:36:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/01-dui.jpg

Over the past three months, NBC 7 has reported on four suspected DUI crashes in San Diego County that resulted in deaths – from a devoted rancher killed in a head-on hit-and-run, to a mother of three killed while walking to Cowles Mountain.

According to local law enforcement agencies – including the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) east San Diego sector – there were a total of five deadly DUI crashes on city streets and highways between June 1 and Aug. 27, 2015.

Of those five cases, three were reported on city streets under the SDPD’s jurisdiction, while the other two cases were on highways under the jurisdiction of CHP East.

NBC 7 reached out to other local agencies for statistics on deadly DUI crashes within that same date range, including the North County and Border sectors of CHP and local police departments in Carlsbad, Oceanside, National City, El Cajon, La Mesa, Chula Vista, Coronado and Escondido.

CHP’s Border sector, as well as the Carlsbad, Escondido, La Mesa, Oceanside, Chula Vista and Coronado police departments all reported zero deadly DUI crashes. The National City and El Cajon police departments did not immediately respond to NBC 7’s request.

CHP North County said it had investigated six deadly DUI collisions since January 2015, but could not specify if any of those cases fell within the period of June 1 to Aug. 26.

NBC 7 took a look at deadly DUI crash figures for that same date range in 2013 and 2014.

SDPD, SDSO and CHP East reported a combined total of six deadly DUI crashes for that time period in 2013: two investigated by SDPD, one by SDSO and three by CHP East. The Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) also handled one deadly DUI collision during that time.

In 2014, those agencies investigated a combined total of four deadly DUI accidents within the same date range: one by SDPD, two by SDSO and one deadly bicycling DUI investigated by CVPD.

Meanwhile, other police departments – Escondido, Carlsbad, La Mesa and Coronado – all reported zero deadly DUI crashes during those dates in 2013 and 2014. The Oceanside, El Cajon and National City police departments have not yet provided their stats for those years, and CHP North County and Border sectors also did not respond to NBC 7’s request for those stats.

Local law enforcement agencies said they have not noticed a significant increase in deadly DUI crashes over the past few years.

San Diego law enforcement agencies said they continue to operate DUI checkpoints across the county on a consistent basis in an effort to get intoxicated drivers off the road and prevent DUI-related crashes and deaths.

According to SDPD Traffic Division Officer Mark McCullough, the Traffic Division has launched a new program that aims to show local teenagers exactly what happens during a DUI arrest, and the consequences that follow.

McCullough said the Teen Alcohol Awareness Program (T.A.A.P.) is an effort to reach out to teens before they start driving. In the class, teens are taken to a working DUI checkpoint during late-night hours and debriefed at a police station.

McCullough said the first T.A.A.P. classes were held on July 25 and Aug. 15. There was so much interest from the public for the classes, the Traffic Division agreed to host another class on Aug. 27 to accommodate the requests.

“We have a full class slated and our funding agency, The California Office of Traffic Safety, will be there as well to look at the class first-hand,” McCullough told NBC 7.

The deadly DUI crashes covered by NBC 7 over the summer season, thus far, include a July 22 crash in the North County involving suspected drunk driver Anthony Rodriguez, 30, and victim Enid Diana Mayer-Sheaf, 61.

In that incident, SDPD Lt. Leonard Flake said Rodriguez crossed a center divider in a Fiat 500 while heading east on Carmel Valley Road, north of State Route 56. As Rodriguez neared Camino Del Sur, he slammed into a Chevrolet Nova traveling in the opposite direction being driven by Mayer-Sheaf.

Mayer-Sheaf died at the scene, and Rodriguez was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The victim left behind a devastated husband and 22-year-old son.

"The horn has been sounded many, many times for many years continually about the perils of drinking and driving," said Lt. Flake that day at the scene of the crash. “Yet here is another example of what frequently occurs when people make the choice to drink and then get behind the wheel.”

At a July 30 arraignment, prosecutors said Rodriguez had been to a Padres game and bars in downtown San Diego and Pacific Beach in the hours before the deadly crash. Based on the DUI suspect’s height and weight, prosecutors said they believe he had close to 10 drinks that day.

Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to DUI causing death, gross vehicular manslaughter and having a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.08 causing injury. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

Two weeks later, on Aug. 5, a deadly DUI crash in Bonsall took the life of Escondido resident Juan Corza Gonzalez, 62 – a hard-working rancher, father and grandfather to 11 grandchildren.

Gonzalez was killed in a crash on Old Highway 395 just before 5:30 a.m. when suspected drunk driver Garrett Gelrud, 34, drifted across the double yellow lines as he approached a curve on the rural stretch of road. Gelrud slammed his Chevy Suburban head-on into Gonzalez’s Nissan Versa, the impact killing Gonzalez at the scene, CHP officials said.

An Escondido couple witnessed the wreck as they drove on Old Highway 395, but they could not avoid striking the back of Gonzalez’s Nissan. The couple sustained minor injuries.

Gelrud – suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol – fled the scene of the deadly crash on foot. Just after 6 a.m., CHP officials received calls from citizens reporting Gelrud walking barefoot down the road. Minutes later, Gelrud was detained by officials at a nearby gas station.

He was arrested and charged on suspicion of DUI. Gelrud – who has prior DUIs on his record – had a readiness hearing on Aug. 27. He’s currently jailed at the Vista Detention Facility with bail set at more than $3 million.

A little over one week later, on Aug. 13, wife and mother of three, Rocio De Anda Leamon, 38, was killed by suspected drunk driver Joshua Taylor, also 38.

Leamon, who had the right of way, was crossing Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive in San Carlos just before 6:30 p.m. when Taylor failed to stop at a red traffic light, slamming his Chevy Silverado into Leamon.

Leamon was rushed to a nearby hospital, but died a short time later. She was on her way to Cowles Mountain for her daily hike at the time of the suspected DUI crash. Her widowed husband told NBC 7 they were happily married for 20 years.

Taylor, charged with four counts, including first-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter, is slated to appear in court on Sept. 29.

Finally, on Aug. 22, another suspected DUI crash claimed the lives of two young women in Bay Park.

Officials said Antony Schoenle, 20, was driving a 2000 Dodge Stratus accompanied by passengers Lupe Acosta and Lizzy Garcia around 7:30 a.m. in the 4800 block of Friars Road near Pacific Highway.

Schoenle, accused of driving under the influence, lost control, slammed into a curb, drove onto an embankment and crashed into a large boulder. Flames engulfed the mangled car.

Schoenle managed to escape the flaming wreckage, but Garcia, Acosta and a puppy couldn’t get out and died in the car, police said.

Schoenle was hospitalized with injuries and burns. He was arraigned from a hospital bed at UCSD Medical Center on Aug. 26, and subsequently arrested and charged with two counts of felony manslaughter, felony DUI and providing false information.

Prosecutors said the underage driver had allegedly been partying for 12 hours straight before the deadly crash, using alcohol and drugs, before getting behind the wheel.

Schoenle is facing five counts, including two charges of vehicular manslaughter, and is being held at San Diego Central Jail on a bail of $2 million. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 1 and Sept. 29.

In the fight against drunk driving, the non-profit Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) continues to be a well-known resource.

MADD operates an affiliate office in San Diego and hosts “Victim Impact Panels” locally at the Chula Vista Courthouse Jury Lounge, the El Cajon Courthouse Jury Lounge, the San Diego Hall of Justice Jury Lounge and the Vista Courthouse Jury Lounge.

The panels include victims who were injured in impaired driving crashes or loved ones of those who were killed or injured in a DUI crash. Speakers describe how those crashes have impacted their personal lives. The panels, according to the MADD website, are designed to expose drunk drivers and potential impaired drivers to the real impact a DUI can have on others.

MADD says judges, probation officers and military commanders require convicted DUI offenders to attend a Victim Impact Panel as an element of their sentences.

The panels are held seven times per month across the aforementioned locations in San Diego, with three of the panels held in Spanish. For more information on MADD San Diego County, call (858) 564-0780.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Years Later, Thousands Still Live With Katrina Damage]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 05:48:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/jerry-reed-backyard-nola.jpg

Pulling up to Jerry Reed's house in St. Roch neighborhood is like stepping back in time to August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ripped through the area, devastating everything in its path. The house appears very much the same today as then, a decade after the storm, NBC News reported.

The home's foundations are unearthed, its vinyl siding peels along ragged lines that demarcate clearly how high the floodwaters rose. "Ten years after the storm, I didn't ever think it would still be — this bad," said a somber Reed as he reflected on the 10th anniversary of one of the most powerful natural disasters to ever strike a major American city.

Reed, 66, is a Vietnam War veteran who fought for his country and won the Silver Star but feels he has been forgotten here at home. He is just one of thousands of homeowners in and around New Orleans who is unable to pay for damages that remain from Hurricane Katrina.

Photo Credit: NBC News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Reduce Your Electricity Use Challenges Homeowners]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:19:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/web_senior_living_facility_air_conditioning_1200x675_506333763767.jpg

The weather is hot and muggy, and SDG&E wants you to cut back on your air conditioning.

To add some incentive, the utility is offering the Reduce Your Use Rewards program on Friday. Customers must sign up for the program that offers lower electricity rates on certain hot days.

SDG&E will look at the last five days of your energy use and average the three days where you used the most energy. If you are able to save below that amount, you qualify for rewards.

"People are really engaging into it," said Allison Zaragoza with SDG&E. "They are logging in and finding out their average and saying, 'Can I save more this time than I did last time?'"

If they are able to save, customers will be eligible to earn a bill credit of $0.75 per kilowatt hour saved or $1.25 credit with enabling technology.

There are nearly 70,000 customers signed up for the program. Last year they averaged a savings of $3.30 for each of the seven Reduce Your Use designated days. The hours for the program are between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday.

"They just start out by using fans and doing their part," said Zaragoza. That also includes raising the thermostat and holding off using appliances during peak hours.

This is not to be confused with the Summer Saver program where SDG&E takes control of your air conditioner.

There is more information on the San Diego Gas and Electric website.

<![CDATA[Man Who Killed SDPD Officer Granted Parole]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 11:44:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/archie+buggs.JPG

The man who shot and killed San Diego Police Officer Archie Buggs "execution-style" has been granted parole, according to the San Diego District Attorney's office.

On Friday, the state Parole Board decided Jesus Cecena should be released after 36 years behind bar for Buggs' slaying. 

In 1978, Cecena was pulled over by Buggs, 30, for a traffic stop in Skyline. Cecena pulled out a gun and shot the 4-year SDPD veteran to death.

Cecena was originally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1979, but in 1982, the sentencing law regarding minors changed. Cecena's sentence was amended to life with the chance of parole because, though he was a known gang member, he was 17 at the time of the shooting, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.

Deputy DA Richard Sachs, who argued in front of the Parole Board to keep Cecena in prison, said the law doesn't apply to juveniles who kill police officers.

"Especially not people who, once the officer was down and dying, walked up to him and fired a bullet into his head to make sure he is dead," said Sachs. "That's not what the law was designed to protect with respect to juveniles."

Since his sentence changed, Cecena was denied parole more than a dozen times.

But last year, a two-member panel from the Parole Board sent a letter to the governor's office, recommending Cecena be released. They said he was eligible for Youth Offender parole under the state's law.

Local law enforcement was immediately outraged and began their fight to keep Cecena in prison.

"This individual has never accepted responsibility for his actions, and the fact that he was 17 years of age when he did this doesn't change the fact," said SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown later overturned the panel's 2014 recommendation.

On Friday, the board again granted Cecena suitability status, which is subject to a 120-day decision review period. He will remain in prison during that time.

Dumanis, Sachs, and Buggs' former partner Jesse Navarro — in whose arms Buggs died — traveled to the parole hearing in Fresno Friday to speak against Cecena's release.

Navarro told NBC 7 he is upset about the decision.

"It was very hard to see [Cecena] but also very hard to see some of the photos that brought back memories of my good friend laying on the street, dying on the street," he said.

Now that it has been granted, Dumanis said, "we will be making a bee-line for the governor's office to make sure that doesn't happen."

The governor has 30 days to reverse, uphold or make no action on the Parole Board's decision.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused in Child Porn Case Has History With PD]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:10:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sean+ofarrell.JPG

A Lomas Santa Fe man accused of soliciting a sex act from a minor in a public library had a collection of library cards, officials said. Now, NBC 7 has obtained court documents showing the suspect has been questioned in similar incidents reported at other libraries.

Sean O’Farrell, 40, pleaded not guilty Friday to one count of felony possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors say when San Diego County Sheriff's deputies served a search warrant to the suspect's parent's home, they found hundreds of videos showing minors in a state of undress, naked or performing sexual acts. The average age of the victims was estimated to be 14 to 17 years old, officials said.

O'Farrell was arrested in San Bernardino County on Aug 18. He's accused of offering cash to a minor in a library bathroom in exchange for a sex act. 

NBC 7 has obtained the search warrant affidavit in the case and it shows a troubling timeline of allegations involving O’Farrell dating back 13 years.

He was questioned in connection to reports from minors complaining of an adult watching them urinate in public bathrooms and stalking them. No charges were filed in any of the cases.

Among the previous reports:

2002 — Two male teenagers told San Diego Police a man followed them into the bathroom at Carmel Valley Library and watched them urinate. SDPD contacted O’Farrell and released him without charge.

2006 — O’Farrell was listed as a suspect in two stalking cases under investigation by San Diego Police. The files are marked confidential.

2010 — A male juvenile reported seeing a man looking at him in the bathroom at the Earl Warren Middle School's library. San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies found O’Farrell in the bathroom, the documents state. O’Farrell was released.

2012 — A 13-year-old male told Carmel Valley library staffers that a man was watching him in the bathroom through the stalls. The case was not pursued because the victim’s parents did not give their consent for the minor to cooperate with investigators.

2013 — A man was reportedly following two juveniles at Solana Beach library.

2014 — Woman awoke to discover her grandson missing. Using the boy’s cellphone, she tracked him to a nearby restaurant where she found him in a car, the document states. O’Farrell was allegedly also inside the vehicle but told officials nothing sexual happened.

2015 — O’Farrell faces criminal charges in San Bernardino County for approaching a 15 year old in the bathroom at the Rancho Cucamonga Library. Officials claim O’Farrell offered cash to the boy in exchange for a sex act.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigators seized three DVDs, two VHS tapes, 100 CDs, a laptop and an iPhone from O’Farrell’s parents’ home.

O'Farrell faces three years in prison if convicted. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[Somali Food in San Diego]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:44:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/OTEP-Somali-Food-12.jpeg

Curry and cumin. Lamb and goat. Seasoned rice and spaghetti. Those are some of the flavors and foods of Somali cuisine found in San Diego's City Heights community.

Continuing our series celebrating San Diego’s rich cultural diversity and food scene, here are the places we visited and the dishes we tried (see our interactive map below to explore the locations):

Fatuma Restaurant (4869 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105):

  • Combo plate with grilled goat, fried tilapia, rice and vegetables
  • Soor, which is a style of corn grits, served under seasoned spinach
  • Mixed fruit drink (tastes like guava juice)

Faridas East African Cuisine (1754 Euclid Ave, San Diego, CA 92105)

  • Chicken and beef sambusas (fried meat or vegetable pastries)
  • Combo chicken plate
  • Traditional Somali tea, which is fragrant milk tea

If you like spicy, make sure you ask for the green sauce – or as online reviewers like to refer to as “the green stuff.” The restaurant may give you a banana with your meal. If you can resist, don’t eat it right away. It isn’t an appetizer. Traditionally, the banana is eaten with the meal, like a condiment.

[[322962351, C]]

In the '90s thousands of people escaped Somalia as a result of the Somali Civil War. Before then, imperial powers and civil unrest had already displaced many Somalis around Africa (notably North and South Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti) and the world.

There are between 10,000 and 20,000 Somalis residing in San Diego, making San Diego home to the second largest Somali population in the United States.

[[321079521, C]]

Abdikidar Osman welcomed us into his business, Fatuma Restaurant, and explained customers can sit and eat at tables or take off their shoes and eat on the carpet on the ground. Traditionally, Somali food is eaten that way, using hands.

“One of the most important things people should know about Somali culture is we are very open-minded people. We like to talk, and Somalis are well known for sitting around having tea,” said Osman.

When asked what a first-timer should try at his restaurant, he recommended the lamb and goat with rice dishes.

[[32030283, C]]

The goat is boiled for two to three hours to make it very tender. It’s then spiced with cumin, curry, pepper and Fatuma’s secret mix of other spices. Many people like the goat grilled after it’s boiled to give it a deliciously gristly crunch.

In 1990, Osman came to the U.S. by himself. He had two things – $19 in his pocket and a positive attitude. He named his restaurant Fatuma, after his wife who currently resides in Ethiopia. Together they have six children. Noticing the Somali community in San Diego didn’t have the best access to the food they needed, he opened a market in City Heights and then a restaurant.

[[316320711, C]]

Somalis are Muslim. They eat Halal food, which means it’s prepared following Islamic principle.

“For the Somali community, going out and trying to eat that food, there was no accessibility there,” he explained. “For me it was a business opportunity and at the same time serving the community.”

Although Somalis are, geographically, a divided people, Osman says San Diego has united them.

[[204328381, C]]

“The most amazing thing in San Diego, compared to other cities, and I can fully say this – the community, the elders in San Diego are very united elders,” he explained. “We were divided back in Somalia because of the civil war, but once we come over here it’s a completely different mentality.”

Elders are the most respected – the decision makers – in Somali communities.

NOTE: If you’ve been watching/reading this “Off the Eaten Path” series celebrating San Diego’s diversity through food, share your thoughts with reporter Candice Nguyen by emailing her at candice.nguyen@nbcuni.com or messaging her on her Facebook page.



Photo Credit: Candice Nguyen
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Escondido Man Admits to Killing Mom's Dog]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:19:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SD-Humane-Society-Law-Enforcement.jpg

An Escondido parolee will serve seven years in prison for killing his mother’s dog – possibly with an iron – the San Diego Humane Society confirmed Friday.

Humane Society officials said Francisco Villegas, 32, pleaded guilty on Aug. 18 to one count of felony animal cruelty for the death of his mom’s dog, a miniature poodle named Lex.

Earlier this year, the Escondido Police Department alerted officers from the San Diego Humane Society after Lex was found dead in Villegas’ mother’s home. Humane Society offers took over the investigation and determined the miniature poodle had died of blunt force trauma, possibly inflicted from an iron or similar object.

Villegas – on parole at the time of the dog’s death – was suspected of killing the pet, and later admitted to it, investigators said. He was booked into the George Bailey Detention Facility and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 7.

Steve MacKinnon, Chief of Humane Law Enforcement for San Diego Humane Society, says cases like this are taken very seriously by the organization.

“We’ll always prosecute to the fullest extent of the law when we find intentional acts of animal cruelty have occurred,” said MacKinnon. “When an animal is a victim of abuse, they are unable to speak for themselves, so it’s our duty to be the voice for the voiceless in situations like this one.”

Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of San Diego Humane Society, says Humane Society officers respond to claims of animal cruelty and neglect seven days a week throughout the county.

Residents with animal-related concerns can contact the San Diego Humane Society at (619) 243-3466 or by visiting the organization’s website.

Photo Credit: San Diego Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[El Cajon Sees Success With New Alcohol Sales Rules]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:36:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gary-Kendrick-El-Cajon.jpg

In El Cajon, a creative approach helps reduce problem drinking and crimes tied to alcohol abuse.

The city has a history of public drunkenness and illegal alcohol sales, to minors.

So El Cajon got creative: banning the sale of cheap, fortified wine, hard liquor in "mini-bottles," and large, single containers of beer and malt liquor.

On Friday, city leaders discussed their successful strategy. They say public drunkenness is down 35 percent with instances of drinking-in-public down 26 percent.

They also cite a 93-percent drop in minors arrested for possession of alcohol.

El Cajon's Mayor Bill Wells said liquor stores were nervous about the crackdown, but now embrace the new laws.

"Once the word got out that this was happening, and that we're catching them doing this and there would be some consequences to that, that cleaned up really well," Well said.

Retailers who don't comply with the the laws can have liquor license suspended.

El Cajon says it's the first city in San Diego to use this innovative approach to liquor sales, that makes store owners part of the solution not just a target for law enforcement.

<![CDATA[Texas Sheriff's Deputy Gunned Down at Gas Station]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 12:01:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/Harris+County+Presser.jpg


Authorities were questioning a person of interest Saturday in the "execution-style" shooting of a uniformed Texas sheriff's deputy, while warning that "dangerous rhetoric" against law enforcement has "gotten out of control," NBC News reported.


"We've heard black lives matter — all lives matter," a visibly angry Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman told reporters. "Well, cops' lives matter, too."

The emotional news conference came after Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren H. Goforth, 47, was shot Friday night after coming out of the convenience store of a Houston Chevron gas station.

Goforth had just filled his patrol car when a man "walked up behind him and literally shot him to death," Hickman said overnight.

During Saturday afternoon's news conference, officials pleaded for help from the public. Hickman said no one had been taken into custody, and asked for any witnesses of the shooting to come forward.

Photo Credit: NBC News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Thai Police Arrest Suspect in Bangkok Tourist Shrine Bombing]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 03:09:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sketch19.JPG

Police in Thailand arrested a suspect in the deadly Bankok bombing that killed 20 people at a crowded Shrine earlier this month.

National police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told Reuters that the suspect fit the description of a man seen on a surveillance video leaving a backpack at the scene.

Thavornsiri added that police raided an apartment used by the suspect in northern Bangkok and discovered possible bomb-making materials.

The bomb detonated at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok's commercial center on Aug. 17, killing 20 and wounding dozens more.

Photo Credit: Deputy Police Chief, Royal Thai Police]]>
<![CDATA[Egypt Sentences Al-Jazeera Reporters to Prison]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:46:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/451087480.jpg

An Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists to three years in prison in a long-running trial criticized by press freedom advocates worldwide.
Judge Hassan Farid said he issued his verdict in the retrial because the three journalists were not registered with the country's journalist syndicate, brought reporting equipment into the country without permission and were spreading "false news," Reuters reported.
The case against Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed was opened in the wake of the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Greste, who was deported in February and sentenced in absentia, wrote on Twitter that he was shocked, outraged, angry and upset. 
Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Qatar-based Al Jazeera, said that the "verdict defies logic and common sense." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Appoints First Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:50:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/obama+climate.JPG

President Barack Obama appointed the country's first special envoy for hostage affairs following a review of the government's current hostage policies, the White House announced on Friday.

Former State Department official Jim O'Brien will be tasked with "one overriding goal," according to Secretary of State John Kerry, to whom O'Brien will report: "using diplomacy to secure the safe return of Americans held hostage overseas." 

O'Brien will also communicate directly with the families of hostages—a response to criticism from families of American hostages who complained that the U.S. government left them in the dark.

O'Brien will be part of a "fusion cell" made up of officials from the FBI, the State Department, the Pentagon and CIA.

He previously worked as a presidential envoy to the Balkans during the 1990s and a senior adviser to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sarah Palin Lobs Softballs at Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:03:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP342668398395.jpg

Sarah Palin hosted Republican candidates Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz on her show, "On Point with Sarah Palin," for a friendly interview Friday that steered clear of the tough questions they faced duing their first debate earlier this month.

Trump criticized the current tax code, calling it "a joke," and slammed the "horrible" treatment of the country's middle class and veterans, vowing to improve their lives. "If I win … believe me, the vets will be taken care of," he said. Palin did not prompt him to explain what he would change.

She invited Cruz and Bush to sound off on the recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, Hillary Clinton's email server scandal and the proposed Iran nuclear deal, which Cruz called "profoundly dangerous to our country."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Sentenced for Car on Crowded Beach ]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:23:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Villiami+Pomale+mission+beach+driver+4th+of+july+web.jpg

A Northern California man who drove his car onto the sand in Mission Bay on Fourth of July was sentenced to jail Friday.

Villiami Pomale, 45, will spend a year in jail and five years on probation for driving through Pacific Beach crowds with an blood-alcohol level at twice the legal limit.

After getting involved in a crash on Mission Boulevard, Pomale drove on the sand for almost half a mile. 

Beachgoers ran for cover and even grabbed children to get them out of the way. Images from the incident show tire marks on beach blankets and towels.

Officers say they eventually caught up with Pomale and took him into custody. No one on the beach was injured.

Pomale pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon, felony driving under the influence causing injury, and misdemeanor reckless driving.

<![CDATA[Legionnaires Disease Confirmed at San Quentin Prison]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:14:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/211*120/prisonmain.PNG

San Quentin Prison officials on Friday confirmed at least one case of Legionnaires' disease on prison premises, located on the shore of San Francisco Bay just east of Larkspur.

Officials said one prisoner had undergone tests at a hospital outside the prison facility after falling sick The tests confirmed that he had the potentially life threatening disease. He is currently in stable condition, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Two more inmates were hospitalized after displaying symptoms and were transported to an outside hospital for pneumonia-like symptoms, but no officials diagnosis has been made.

San Quentin has temporarily halted inmate intake as the investigation continues.

Prison officials had shut off all water to the prison Thursday, including to showers, toilets, sinks and the kitchen. Prisoners could be seen lining up with jars to receive water on the prison grounds Friday from the NBC Bay Area chopper. Water stations and a line of porta potties were also spotted.

According to a statement from CDCR Friday afternoon, the prison will resume the use of plumbed toilets inside the facility’s housing units and monitored use of water for cooking after consulting with health experts. Water sources such as bottled water and water tanks will continue to be consumed until it is deemed safe to resume normal water use.

Currently around 30 inmates are ill and have symptoms associated with Legionnaires' disease. The inmates have not been confirmed to have Legionnaires disease and were only being treated as a precaution, Dana Simas from CDCR said. All unconfirmed cases are being treated at San Quentin’s on-site medical unit, Simas said.

The CDCR is working with Marin County Public Health to identify the source of the problem. The prison will keep bringing in water until the problem has been fixed, Simas said.

Most cases of legionellosis or Legionnaires’ disease are caused by Legionella pneumophila, but all species of Legionella can cause the disease, according to the CDC. People contract Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with Legionella bacteria, which grows in warm freshwater environments.

Person-to-person transmisison does not occur with Legionnaires’ disease, the CDC says.

A recent Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the south Bronx sickened more than 120 people, killing 12 of them. Officials in New York identified a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel as the source of that outbreak.

The largest outbreak — 449 cases — ever reported was traced to a cooling tower on the roof of a city hospital in Murcia, Spain in 2001. The bacterium is named after a 1976 outbreak, when people who attended the American Legion convention in Philadelphia caught the disease.

An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease each year in the U.S.

John Zuchelli and Torey Van Oot contributed reporting.